Haggerty: B's top forwards ‘too cute'


As wake-up calls go, they dont arrive much more clearly.

The Bruins had just dropped Game 2 to the Washington Capitals in double-overtime by a 2-1 score, and Claude Julien was mightily displeased by his top-six forwards as a collective group.

Benoit Pouliot and the third line registered a goal into the third period to push things into the extra session, and Shawn Thornton led all Bs skaters with five shots on net in little more than eight minutes of ice time. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were actually pretty good and each had a couple of good scoring chances through the game, but there wasnt enough fight from some of the big names among the Bs forwards.

But after watching two goals in two Stanley Cup playoff gamesand none of them from his top two forward linesits not good enough for Claude Julien. For a team that was expected to feast on a weak Washington defensemen corps and a 22-year-old rookie goaltender, the Bruins have been all reputation and zero action.

Its also clearly not good enough for the Boston Bruins, or good enough to keep tasting success in grinding playoff games.

The third line is attacking the game and so is our fourth line. Theyre putting pucks at the net, and theyre going to the net. Some of the other guys or lines are trying to be a little too cute, and they end up with nothingnothing to show for it, said Julien. We need to be a little bit more of a gritty team determined to go to the dirty areas and win the battles.

As you can see after two games, thats what its going to be. Its going to be a matter of winning battles, whether its Alexander Ovechkin and those guys against Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, or whether its our forwards and Milan Lucic against their Ds. We just need to be a little bit better than they are at winning battles and creating and scoring goals. The proof is the overtime goal: We win the drop, they outmuscle us to the puck, and they get a second effort to make a pass in the right area. They score a goal. So we lost that battle and we lost the game.

While the Bs coach wasnt naming any names, it was pretty clear to see which players werent making themselves enough of a factor in any of the three zones on the ice. Milan Lucic entered the postseason feeling confident about his skating and the way he was playing entering the series against Washington. But his three hits didnt exactly terrorize the Caps blueline corps, and his 6-foot-3, 230-pound was nowhere near the net when it came time to collect rebounds or screen Braden Holtby.

I just dont think were playing our gameespecially my line. I dont know what it is, but we have to find a way to help each other out there, said David Krejci. Sometimes it seems like one guys working and the two others are just waiting and hoping for the puck to have a scoring chance.

It doesnt work like that. Weve got to help each other out there, and go do that. We have good players. Good size too. We should be able to get some scoring chances.

In fact nobody was near the net to collect loose pucks from rebounds at Holtbys feet or fight their way to the net to truly challenge the rookie goaltender. Pouliot showed the way by crashing the cage and flipping a backhander past Holtby, and he spoke the truth after the playoff defeat.

We need more. I think we have some of the biggest guys in the league on our team. Were a big team. Any goalie, I think, whos got traffic in front of him always has a tough time stopping the puck. So weve just got to do that the next couple of games.

David Krejci might get a little bit of a pass coming off a game where a 120-pound pane of glass dropped on his head, but Rich Peverley is another Bs player that needs to snap out of his personal funk. Hes been rusty since coming back from a sprained knee, and has exactly two goals and four points in 10 games since coming back for the Bruins.

Most disappointing of all, however, might be the play of Tyler Seguin. The 20-year-old was looked at as a difference-maker for the Bruins entering the postseason after posting 67 points during the regular season, but that hasnt been the case at all.

Instead Seguin has been losing one-on-one battles all over the ice, and coughing up pucks in the corner when challenged by Washington skaters. He was pretty good in Game 1, but Seguin was nothing short of invisible in the second game against the Caps as Bergeron and Marchand carried him for 82:56 of playoff hockey Saturday afternoon.

Peverley, Krejci, Lucic and Seguin actually accounted for 11 shots on net in the double-overtime loss, but almost none of them were generated in the slotdanger areas where goals are made.

Instead most of the Bs skill forwards were satisfied with shooting from the outside and letting marshmallow-soft defenseman like Dennis Wideman and Mike Green keep them away from the net.

The bottom-line is this: Washington goaltender Braden Holtby has stopped 72 of the 74 shots hes seen in the first two playoff games against the Bruins and he hasnt been challenged much by the Bs best forwards.

Its time for Bostons offensive money men to roll up their sleeves and get some work done after essentially taking off the first two games of the postseason.

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